The National Education Union in England and Wales and support staff members in Wales have unanimously voted to participate in a strike. This ballot met the stringent requirements set out by the government as it posed this question: “Are you prepared to take strike action for this dispute?” The cause of their collective effort is an equitable wage increase that surpasses inflation.
As a result of the Secretary of State in England and employers in Wales neglecting to finance enough money for teachers’ pay improvement that at least meets inflation and repairs lost wages, an overwhelming 90.44% majority with 53.27 turnouts said YES on the ballot among English teachers; similarly, Welsh educators voted 92.28%, along with 58.07% attendance rate, affirming their approval as well.
In February and March, the union declared seven days of the strike, which would only impact one school at a time. The initial strike day is Wednesday, 1 February, and it’s expected to affect 23,400 schools in England & Wales.
Teacher members from sixth-form colleges in England who have already participated in balloting and strikes over recent months will join this dispute regarding the Secretary of State on these designated dates.
Three concurrent ballots for support staff were conducted in England and Wales, with results demonstrating considerable approval.
In particular, the ballot result of support staff in schools saw an overwhelming 84.13% majority vote Yes on a turnout rate of 46.46%, barely missing the government’s stringent thresholds despite its clear favorability towards action!
In Wales, a decisive 88.26% majority of school support staff voted YES on a remarkable turnout rate of 51.30%. As this result surpassed the criteria set out by the government, these workers will be taking action during their dispute as outlined below.
Unfortunately, although 83.56% of England’s sixth-form college support staff showed strong approval in favour of action with an impressive 36.23% voter turnout rate – they still need to meet government thresholds and so must continue without recourse for now.
NEU membership allows teachers and support staff in England state-funded schools, Wales state-funded schools, and sixth-form colleges in England to take strike action to secure a fully funded pay rise that exceeds inflation.
To make sure that everyone is aware of the potential strike days, here’s a comprehensive list: Wednesday, 1 February 2023, for all eligible members in England and Wales; Tuesday, 14 February 2023, for all eligible members in Wales only; and finally, Tuesday, 28 February 2023 for those residing in Northern, North West, Yorkshire & The Humber regions within England.
East Midlands, West Midlands and Eastern – Wednesday 1 March 2023;
London, South East and South West – Thursday 2 March 2023;
England and Wales (all eligible members) – Wednesday, 15 & Thursday, 16 March 2023.
Teacher members in England had a decisive majority, with 121,253 voting “YES” and only 12,811 opting for the negative outcome. Welsh teachers followed suit with 6,033 votes to approve the measure against 505 dissenting voices.
Support staff numbers in both countries largely mimicked their educator counterparts; 15,405 voted yes from England, while 609 said yes from Wales. Finally, 188 out of 225 support staff at English sixth-form colleges approved 37 who abstained or chose an alternate response.
What happens when a teaching union calls a strike?
When a teaching union calls a strike, it is usually done to protest an action or decision by the employer (e.g. school boards or government) they feel is unfair or unjustified.
This can be regarding pay and working conditions, staffing decisions, resources, and education funding cuts. When enough members vote in favour of the strike, the union can legally take action and begin a strike.
What are the consequences of a teachers’ strike?
When teachers go on strike, schools may be shut down for an extended period, or classes may be cancelled. This can lead to students missing out on critical instruction and educational opportunities.
Additionally, it may lead to stress for parents who must find alternate childcare arrangements or work from home. Finally, it can also have financial implications for school boards and the government if they are required to pay higher wages or change the policy in response to the strike.
What is the NEU?
The National Education Union (NEU) is a UK-based trade union representing teachers and school support staff. The NEU works to advocate for better working conditions, fair pay, access to resources and opportunities, as well as other initiatives that benefit members. It is the largest teaching union in the UK and is active across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The NEU also has a role in collective bargaining, lobbying the government to enact changes, and helping members resolve employment disputes. It works closely with other trade unions, professional bodies and stakeholder groups to protect its members’ rights.
What is the purpose of a strike ballot?
A strike ballot is an official vote organised by a union to determine whether its members favour industrial action. A strike ballot typically involves a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ voice, with the outcome based on whether more than half of all eligible members voted ‘yes’.
A strike ballot aims to ensure that any decision to take industrial action has been endorsed by the majority of union members. This ensures that any action taken is in the best interests of all members and allows them to exercise their right to be heard.